Encouraging the next generation of workers – the Barking and Dagenham Construction Advisory Group

An industry-led consortium of construction organisations – the Barking and Dagenham Construction Advisory Group (BDCAG) – is working collaboratively to deliver projects while attracting new recruits into the industry.

This group of construction businesses is completing projects within the borough and across the region – an area earmarked to deliver 50,000 new homes and associated infrastructure over the next 20 years.

BDCAG currently consists of over 30 members, including representatives from leading construction companies and support organisations such as CITB, the Construction Youth Trust and the Considerate Constructors Scheme.

Huge opportunities for construction

The need for new homes in the borough and its surrounding neighbourhoods presents huge opportunities for the construction sector, as well as challenges in ensuring that sufficient new entrants are attracted into the industry.

BDCAG Chair, Denize Halton said: “There is a recognition that the local authority has committed to an agenda of ‘no-one left behind’ and will work with the industry to ensure it can recruit as many of the people it needs nearby.”

Denize is Pre-Construction Manager of Neilcott Construction, a framework contractor for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham (LBBD), which has been appointed for a third term to the framework. Denize is responsible for managing all of the company’s social value commitments for all public sector projects.

Community outreach

Explaining her work with the group, Denize said: “I have been involved with the LBBD framework for a number of years, working closely with the council’s regeneration team in the delivery of employment and skills output.

“When the position of Chair of the Group became available, I was asked to put myself forward to push through various initiatives which had previously stalled. The first thing I did as Chair was to establish working groups to be responsible for various activities including a Schools Partnership Group, Community Projects and Supply Chain Groups.”

Scheme involvement

Outlining how the aims of the group dovetail with the Scheme’s ethos, Denize said: “The Group has been running for coming up to two years and fits with the Scheme’s objectives, in particular, the ‘Respect the Community’ and ‘Value their Workforce’ sections of the Code.

“The Scheme also enhances the group’s overall objectives by promoting best practice, examples of which can be highlighted by all members of the group to show what is achievable.”

Trailblazing work

Asked whether the group was a new concept, Denize said: “As far as I am aware it is unique within local authorities, although we are promoting this, as is the CITB, to various other local authorities we are working with.”

Students from Barking developing their skills undertaking the Build Your Future programme.

Positive outcomes

This exceptional partnership has generated many positive outcomes during its two-year association; a number of community-based projects have been undertaken including the external refurbishment of the Citizens Advice Bureau in Dagenham.

The BDCAG has also sponsored the Participatory City initiative in Barking, a charitable organisation which works with the council to encourage community development, social inclusion, sustainable development and the conservation and protection of the environment and its resources.

The group has also carried out the refurbishment of an outdoor bowls pavilion on behalf of Community Drinks – an ongoing project based in Barking Park which brings local people together to pick, process and produce drinks.

Outlining the group’s community ethos, Denize said: “We aim to promote one community-based project at each meeting, which are held quarterly. The group has also undertaken a number of schools-based initiatives working alongside the CITB and the Construction Youth Trust.

“We have delivered a Build Your Future programme, working initially with three schools in the borough. This initiative provided students with an overview of the construction industry; it covered site tours, assistance with careers advice and CV writing, mock interviews and work placement opportunities.

“It culminated with the students designing and presenting their own residential scheme to a team at Barking Town Hall – an ongoing initiative which is being widened to include various options and construction challenges.”

Supply chain programme

BDCAG is also undertaking a supply chain programme with East London Business Place to support local SMEs.

Denize said: “This is not a ‘Meet the Buyer’ event but is aimed at working alongside SMEs to provide them with assistance and tools so they can bid for work from the main contractors.

“There are a series of workshops and roundtable sessions planned with assistance on accreditations and compliance.”